We chat to the gravity defying, competitive surfer, Rhys Smith about disappearing Beng-Beng's, jeans that give you wings and taking karmic action in the line up!
Posted: Jan 04 2018
Back in November, deep in the Javanese jungle, we had the chance to hang out with the gravity-defying, competitive surfer, Rhys Smith (@waaxhead). We chatted about disappearing Beng-Beng's, jeans that give you wings and taking karmic action in the lineup!
RS: Never really had one stick
SY: Airs or Barrels?
RS: Everyone knows how deep you can get in a barrel now, I get pumped on doing airs. There are so many variations of airs now you can try. They keep the progression going in surfing. It’s exciting when your rock up to a spot and see someone land a huge air off a crazy section they probably could have gotten barrelled in. But If you asked me after I’ve been surfing shitty onshore waves for a week or so I would say getting barrelled.
SY: Which surfer inspires you?
RS: I would have to say Taj Burrow, I grew up idolising his surfing, which in a lot of ways shaped my surfing. In my eyes, he was the best surfer in the world.
It also inspires me to see a surfer giving up some waves to crew that haven’t caught any good ones. We all deserve to be out there having fun. I feel surfers should have a love for the culture, the ocean and each other as well as the sport. If every guy or girl in the line up just made sure the person next to them (if there is one) is catching some waves as well then we can all come out of the water stoked! Which is the feeling we are all chasing when we enter right?
SY: Home break?
RS: Archies beach, Bargara, Queensland.
Not commonly known as a surf destination although my friends and I grew up surfing fun waves every day! There’s actually a lot of good surf breaks in the area including an artificial reef built just for surfing, which was my favourite spot. And not far away are some of the worlds best reef breaks! But I think its best if I don’t mention those.
SY: All time favourite break?
RS: My favourite break is always going to be the one I’m surfing for the first time! We are always thinking of the next new destination.
SY: When did you realise you might be a good surfer?
We lived in a house across the road from the beach and I would watch people surfing almost every day. Mum bought me my first surfboard from Noosa Heads when I was 5, although she didn’t get me any wax. I tried surfing at Noosa national for the first time in my life with no wax and couldn’t stay the board. Neither could she, I was devastated. 6 months later my brother's mate Andrew showed up and taught me how to wax my board! I stood up on my first wave and surfed all the way to the shore! That first wave is a point of origin for every surfer and a feeling worth chasing for the rest of a lifetime.
SY: What's the Biggest inspiration in your surfing career?
RS: Surf films! I can watch the same movie over and over again and never get sick of them, it's kinda weird. Ex-girlfriends hate me for it. A good surf film or section will make me immediately wanna go surf. They allow us to follow the history of surfing and bring our community closer together from all nationalities. Whether you can speak the same language as the guy or girl sitting next to you or not you can both understand surfing and be stoked together at any age or level. If it wasn’t for surf films I don’t think any of us would be surfing as much as we do! I don’t know what can be more inspiring than that?
SY: When you're not surfing you are?
RS: Usually thinking up a plan to take over the world! Otherwise just watching surf movies, drinking coffee and reading books, I like asking a lot of questions and hanging out with my friends.
SY: What boards are you riding?
RS: Channel Islands. Right now I love the 5’10 bunny chow and the 5’8 sampler! I carry those two boards everywhere, I also ride skateboards and 2wheel stick boards! Johnny’s going to take me snowboarding next year so I’ve been really interested in what types of snowboards are around cause I’ve never ridden snow before!
SY: What do you think the connection is between surfing and yoga?
RS: Yoga sets you on a path of higher consciousness, loosens up your body and releases stress in your mind which generally creates better flow in your life, making you even more perfect, which will unlock the better surfer in you!
SY: What's your impression of this crazy old place in Java, Indonesia?
RS: I came out here on my first ever surf trip to Indonesia 10 years ago and just fell in love with the place. It’s a challenging wave. There's no doubt the jungle has a strange effect on people. Every night I have the weirdest dreams, the other night I was standing over the top of my body watching myself sleep, and it felt like there was some big animal in my room, WTF is that about? Weird right? I swear I'm not on any drugs! Everyone I talk to says the same thing. Sometimes it feels like I never even slept, the place is just so alive. Not many people I know leave here without wanting to come back!
SY: Looks like Johnny (our founder) has you on a strict surf/yoga schedule here on camp? Can you tell us about that?
RS: Everyone gets up for yoga at 6:15 am till around 7. Then we sneak off whilst no-ones watching and go surf all day! No schedule, we just like having fun and hanging out. I’m always trying to pick his brain apart with questions on health and wellbeing and why things are the way they are. Johnny has a lot of wisdom to teach, he’s like my Mr Miagi. We like to play a lot of ping-pong, morning and night. I can never seem to beat him, I don’t know if anyone can? Maybe next year. He promised to take me to Kelly’s wave pool if he wins the golden ticket so I’m holding him to that. Maybe we will work on a schedule there!
SY: Can you confirm or deny the rumour that you are responsible for a box of 24 Beng-Beng’s going missing overnight from the camp?
RS: “No Comment’’
SY: So whats your first non-camp meal going to be when you get back to Bali?
RS: Anything that doesn’t contain chicken! (food options are pretty meagre on camp)
SY: You've been spotted flying in a pair of jeans... We want to ask about that...
RS: At first my legs were so sunburnt that I had no choice but to wear them if I still wanted to surf! Then I grew into wearing them. I cut the knees out for flexibility and they actually became really comfortable to wear in the water, protecting me from the sun and the reef!
SY: Are we going to see more of the jeans in the future?
RS: I'm sure I’m not the first bogan to surf in jeans, whats original anymore? But yeah I'll definitely be marking the jeans as surf gear in my closet for the future. They can be an essential asset for every dumb surfer who stays out surfing in the hot, tropical sun for too long.
SY: So what's been on your agenda for the past 2 years? And what's on your agenda for the next 2?
RS: The past two years I was surf coaching for Epic Ocean Adventures in Rainbow Beach, Queensland. Rainbow beach is a great spot, if your heading to Australia or live their already and want to learn how to surf check them out. There is a long sandy point break there with super fun small waves that run for over 800 metres! Ideal for learning how to surf! So yeah that has been fun, with a few overseas surf trips in between.
Recently I’ve moved back to Byron Bay which I’m stoked about and I hope to become more in tune with flexibility and what foods I'm putting into my body. So I can generally be a better surfer and human being. At this point in time surfing and being connected with the ocean is what’s giving me the most pleasure.
SY: What is it about the Surfyogis brand that resonates with you?
RS: I can clearly identify with the path Surfyogis has taken in the industry. It resources all natural and sustainable products from the earth of the highest quality without having an impact on our environment or ourselves. There are other good natural zincs out there but I’ve found most of them feel really greasy on your face and end up all over shit and wearing off half way through your surf. I’m guessing you know what I mean right?
Wearing Surfyogis I’m confident that it's going to stay coated on my precious face all session. Lately I've been constantly surfing 6 to 8 hours and when I come in it's still on. Which leaves no reason to get out of the water when the waves are firing! And it smells great, I’m guessing you could probably eat it, it's made with beeswax. A tub will last you half the year, more! When I’m on surf trips I don’t even bother washing it off at night, using it as a moisturiser. The bottom line is this. The stuff works, it's from the earth and is great for your skin. Treat yourself to some and you’ll see what I’m talking about!